Contrary to what popular shows like Teen Mom and 19 Kids and Counting may suggest, teen pregnancy in the U.S. has been declining continuously over the past 20 years. According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), America’s average teen birth rate has dropped from 61.8 births for every 1,000 adolescent girls in 1991 to 26.5 in 2013. And this most recent 2013 stat is an impressive 10 percent drop from 2012.
Some states have worked to find ways to combat teen pregnancy more efficiently, though. Using data from the National Vital Statistics System (NVSS), HealthGrove mapped the change in teen births (girls 15-19 years old) over the last five years.
Every state has reduced the rate of teen pregnancy over the last 5 years, but some have improved more than others. In the map below, darker green states have done a better job reducing rates of teen births than lighter green states.
Despite these encouraging statistics, unplanned teen pregnancy is still a major public health issue. Many health experts and economists argue that it is a principal driver of poverty and inequality, as well as high abortion rates and number of children put up for adoption.
Why are some states making bigger strides than others? Colorado’s effort against unwanted pregnancy, for example, has been successful due to programs that offer adolescents and poor women long-acting birth control. After being given this choice, the birthrate among these women fell by 37.9%, and abortions plunged by 42%, according to Colorado’s Department of Public Health and Environment.
The correlation between early motherhood and poverty was pretty strong in Colorado’s case. Before women were offered intrauterine devices from the free program in 2009, 50% of births to women in low income areas happened before age 21. In 2014, that age jumped to 24. And according to Sabrina Tavernise of the New York Times, this difference “gives young women time to finish their educations and to gain a foothold in an increasingly competitive job market.”
Many of the states that have a low 5-year change, meaning they still haven’t reduced teen pregnancies, also have relatively high poverty levels. It seems that these new initiatives could possibly kill two birds with one stone. Teen Pregnancy
Here are the top counties in Georgia that are setting a good example for the rest of the state, ranked by the biggest 5-year decline in teen births:
10. Tift County: Tift County reduced adolescent births by 43.5% from 2009 to 2013.
9. Polk County: Polk County reduced adolescent births by 44.7% from 2009 to 2013.
8. Ben Hill County: Ben Hill County reduced adolescent births by 45.0% from 2009 to 2013.
7. Habersham County: Habersham County reduced adolescent births by 45.1% from 2009 to 2013.
6. Chattooga County: Chattooga County reduced adolescent births by 46.0% from 2009 to 2013.
5. Franklin County: Franklin County reduced adolescent births by 46.7% from 2009 to 2013.
4. Rockdale County: Rockdale County reduced adolescent births by 48.4% from 2009 to 2013.
3. Fayette County: Fayette County reduced adolescent births by 50.7% from 2009 to 2013.
2. Tattnall County: Tattnall County reduced adolescent births by 53.9% from 2009 to 2013.
1. Forsyth County: Forsyth County reduced adolescent births by 58.5% from 2009 to 2013.